FURTHER MEMORANDUM FROM THE SOUTHERN EDUCATION
AND LIBRARY BOARD
ENQUIRY INTO PUBLIC EXPENDITURE IN NORTHERN
IRELAND: SPECIAL NEEDS EDUCATION
1. PUPILS WITH
(i) Funding for placement of children with
statements in special schools is calculated on the basis of one
teacher for each group of eight pupils and a classroom assistant
for each teacher. Including teaching and ancillary staff cost,
the average provision for a child with severe learning difficulties
is £8,000, but given the particular needs of such children
the range is £5,000 to £14,000.
(ii) Where a child is placed in a unit of
a mainstream school the cost again varies from £5,000 per
pupil with moderate learning difficulties to £11,000 for
a child with physical handicap or behavioural problems.
(iii) Essentially, funding is particular
to the child and takes account of the needs, as agreed with the
school. A consequence may be that the cost of a placement in a
mainstream school is up to 10 per cent higher than a placement
in a special school, but this is acceptable as an outcome of parental
choice. Where a school confirms that it can meet the needs of
a child, the Board would usually provide 12.5 hours of classroom
assistance and three hours of teaching per week. In terms of value
for money, this is acceptable because there are compensatory savings
in the provision of transport. This also facilitates integration
into mainstream classes.
2. The essential criteria are, first:
(i) where the needs of the child can best
be met and what costs are attached to making that provision;
(ii) agreement with the parent as to the
provision of the best needs of circumstances of the child,
3. Annual reviews occur in the spring and summer
terms. Increasing emphasis on stating outcomes and assessing progress
in meeting them is helpful in ensuring close monitoring of the
appropriateness of different placements.
4. PUPILS WITH
Under the current LMS scheme the money is given
direct to schools on a percentage basis i.e., 20 per cent of the
school's enrolment. Monitoring arrangements have been strengthened
at Key Stage 2 to make sure that the 18 per cent of children who
at some time have special needs are not being overlooked. The
reporting of expenditure on non-statemented pupils from within
the LMS allocation has been examined by the Review Body working
for greater uniformity in LMS schemes.
In this Board, there is a high incidence of
special units as part of mainstream schools. "Special Education
Provision" generally defines what is provided in these units
and how the Board supports the children who are in them.
"Special educational needs" are defined
as the specified needs of the individual pupil made within the
Board's overall policy for support arrangements. The needs constitute
part of the responsibilities of the Principal of the school attended
by the child.
6. Definitions are applied in accordance with
the nature of provision received by the child.
Integration is promoted by additional provision
in a special unit of particular children, by the high emphasis
given to integration of children in units at mainstream schools
and by the deployment of peripatetic teachers.
8. At present 169 pupils receive education otherwise
than at school. The number however varies considerably and has
been much higher in recent times. The cost of this provision is
£324,481 in a full financial year. This represents about
1 per cent of the cost of full-time education provided to pupils
aged 4-16 years.
The provision consists of five hours' tuition
per week for a primary aged child for 38 weeks in a year and eight
hours for a secondary school child. It is provided on a one to
one basis and, as far as possible, is available across the school
9. CO -OPERATION
There is increasing co-operation between this
Board and the Southern Health and Social Services Board. Regular
meetings are held at senior officer level, documentation is shared
and discussed and where appropriate common responses are made.
The sole difficulty which exists derives from the mandatory requirement
on this Board to meet need irrespective of resource implications,
whereas the Health Board is not obliged to provide help for example
through provision of speech therapists or physiotherapists in
a situation where its resources are finite.
10. A Protocol for joint working has been agreed
with one of the Trusts in the Board's area and progress has been
made towards similar arrangements in respect of partnership of
the other trusts. A general document on partnership between the
Health and Social Services Board and this Board was adopted on
16 July 1998.
20 July 1998